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Q.My tenants have painted one of the rooms in the house I let them black. What do I do?

A.(This question comes from a landlord who has discovered that one of the rooms in a house he rents out to private tenants has been painted black. Previously it had been a neutral colour. The landlord discovered the change on an agreed maintenance visit.)

Since you did not consent to this change and, because you’ll also need to restore it to its original state at the end of the tenancy, you can consider this bit of amateur decoration to be deliberate damage. That means that, when the tenancy ends, you can claim a deduction from the deposit to put the damage right. You would be perfectly justified in claiming the full sum it requires to get the room back to normal and because black is a difficult colour to cover, that might be expensive and will probably take a few coats.

There’s not much point in getting too uptight about it just now. If the tenants are staying for a while yet, they can live with it. But you will want to express your dissatisfaction and ensure that they don’t paint any more of the property in unattractive shades.

Q.My tenants, who have a young baby, have blocked the toilets in my property three times in two months. It costs me every time I call the drain people out; can I request a contribution from the tenants?

A.You need to be absolutely sure what the cause of the blockages is. You clearly suspect that the tenants are causing them by flushing nappies and baby wipes down the pan: but can you be 100 per cent sure? You need to have a conversation with your tenants. Tell them that they mustn’t flush bulky objects down the loo and tell them plainly that if it happens again that you’ll get the blockage people to get to the bottom of the problem. If it turns out that they have been flushing stuff down there, tell them that you’ll want them to pay for the unblocking. We suspect that this will be enough. But don’t forget that there may be an issue with the drains unrelated to the tenants.